Police warn of new courier fraud

Stay switched on to phone scam, fraud police urge.

Police are reminding people to be wary of phone crooks after ‘courier fraud’ resurfaced in a series of calls recently to elderly people in Solihull.

The scam sees offenders posing as detectives and using scare stories − often claims that the person’s bank account has been hacked − in order to persuade their targets into handing over account security details, including PIN numbers, and bank cards.

Tricksters then despatch a courier to collect the cards and, armed with PIN numbers, victims’ savings are raided.

It gathered popularity amongst thieves at the turn of the year − with many people falling foul of the con − but faded in recent months after a concerted push by West Midlands Police raised awareness and saw several people jailed. However, in the last month five people have reported taking suspicious calls bearing all the hallmarks of a courier fraud con − and though none were successful police has urged people to stay vigilant.

Sergeant Rod Rose from the force’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “Police or bank officials would never phone and ask you to divulge PIN numbers over the phone or send couriers round to collect cards; if you receive a call requesting this then hang up and contact police.

“The scammers claim the target’s bank account has been hacked and advise them to hang-up and phone the number on the back of their card. However, because the fraudsters don’t themselves hang up, the victim is unwittingly still on the line to them rather than their starting a fresh conversation with their bank. They are then asked to hand over PIN numbers, either verbally or by keying them into the handset, and are told a courier will arrive to collect their cards.”

The latest attempts − from October 8th to November 10th − were on people aged between 71- and 87-years-old from the Solihull and east Birmingham area. Each time the conmen have used a specific name, including ID number, and claimed to be from a local police station.

In May three London men were jailed for conning a total of £11,000 out of nine people − the oldest an 86-year-old woman from Sutton Coldfield − after detectives found the group operating the scam from a hotel room.

And in October another man was jailed after being caught using an 89-year-old man’s stolen bank cards to buy designer clothes in the Bullring.

Detectives also found the man − plus an accomplice handed a community order − had used cards taken from two more Solihull residents, women aged 82- and 85-years-old, to buy trainers and withdraw cash.

Anyone who believes they’ve been targeted by fraudsters should call police on 101 or if a crime is in progress dial 999. For more crime prevention advice go to the Action Fraud website www.actionfraud.police.uk